Mary Douglas on Pollution -- Purity and Danger The need to classify and categorize experience is universal Our understanding of what is "natural" is always filtered through socially constructed categories of what is good or bad, holy or profane, safe or risky, or ambiguous. Taboo is a violation of classifications. "Dirt is matter out of place." “The analysis of ritual symbolism cannot begin until we recognize ritual as an attempt to create and maintain a particular culture, a particular set of assumptions by which experience is controlled” (153). “Uncleanness or dirt is that which must not be included if a pattern is to be maintained. To recognize this is a first step towards insight into pollution. It involves us in no clear-cut distinction between sacred and secular” (53). “Danger lies in transitional state; simply because transition is neither one state nor the next, it is indefinable” and that “this danger is controlled by ritual which precisely separates him from his old status, segregates him for a
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Mary Douglas, socially constructed categories, dangerously ambiguous roles